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Richard Harrison

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Richard Harrison (page 2)

We have recalled Gordon Mitchell, recently deceased, who was also a body-builder before becoming a great sword and sandal movie star and whom you found yourself in several occasions by the side of afterwards. What was your relationship with him ? Did you see each other apart from the shoots ? In an interview he had very kindly granted us last Christmas, the late lamented actor - who had always loads of projects, whether artistic or not - was constantly repeating that the essential of his philosophy was summed up in the leitmotiv " keep yourself busy ". You who had voiced the wish to put an end to your acting career before running for the office of mayor of Palm Springs, California, in 1995 and again in 1999, do you recognize yourself in this way of life ?

Gordon was a special person. My sons grew up loving him, especially my youngest, Sebastian. When I started producing, directing and writing I would always try to use Gordon. Gordon was pure of heart.

"Gordon was pure of heart."

Concerning the 1972 western Due Fratelli (Jesse and Lester, Two Brothers in a Place Called Trinity), you are ascribed the co-direction with Renzo Genta. Was it some kind of an old wish or just an opportunity ? All the more so since you won't do it again till the 1986 Italian release Three Men On Fire, a project who appears more personal as far as this time you are also involved in the writing. Could you tell us more about this experience and explain why you didn't go further into movie direction ? Was it easy to persuade other icons of popular cinema like Gordon Mitchell, Alphonse Beni or Romano Kristoff - along with your son Sebastian - to be part of the venture ?

Actually, I did most of the writing on Jesse and Lester. It did not work out with Mr Genta, so after three days I took over the directing. I like to direct and have often done so, but did not use my name especially when acting as I felt it cheapened the film. I also enjoy writing, and several films I wrote have been made. I do not like to produce. I like writing and directing both better than acting, and believe I have more talent in that direction. Right now I am just finishing a script where the lead in a Russian [?]. I am not involved in the production end.

"I like writing and directing both better than acting, and believe I have more talent in that direction."

Though you don't appear in the film, you are also ascribed the scenario of Bruno Mattei's Scalps, the latter being a director with quite an odd filmography. Could you briefly explain how you found yourself involved in this film enterprise ?

I wrote the script for my own film company, but I decided it was not the right time to make it ; then another company bought it from me. I have not seen the film, but I understand very little I wrote was used...

After the decline of the genre which made your name, you have stayed in Europe and continued your career with western pictures, some of which have since become imperishable classics like Ricardo Blasco's Gunfight at Red Sands (Duello nel Texas, 1963) or Antonio Margheriti's Vengeance (Joko Invoca Dio... e Muori, 1968). Here in Nanarland, some of us consider that these parts probably suit better your own personality than the sword and sandal movies. Is it the period of your filmography that you like the most ? In the mini biography one can find about you on the website, it is said that you are the one who would have recommended Clint Eastwood to Sergio Leone for Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari, 1964)... is it true ?

I had just finished working for the producers Pappi and Colombo, in a western, when they offered me another one. I really did not want to do a western again as they seemed so different than the ones made in America. I kept telling them no, but Sergio Leone insisted I do the lead. The producers told me it was not a good film and since I had other offers I decided against it... Leone actually followed me and came on the set where I was working and watched me from afar. Finally, the producers asked to see me again, and after I affirmed I would not do the film they read me three names of actors from Hollywood that had been sent to them. Since they did not know who they were they asked me to recommend one of them. I knew of all three. My choice was Clint, only because he knew how to ride a horse. So many American actors were not able to ride well. That is the real story.

"My choice was Clint, only because he knew how to ride a horse."

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